Tracking two pleasures

Aenne A. Brielmann, Denis G. Pelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Can people track several pleasures? In everyday life, pleasing stimuli rarely appear in isolation. Yet, experiments on aesthetic pleasure usually present only one image at a time. Here, we ask whether people can reliably report the pleasure of either of two images seen in a single glimpse. Participants (N = 13 in the original; +25 in the preregistered replication) viewed 36 Open Affective Standardized Image Set (OASIS) images that span the entire range of pleasure and beauty. On each trial, the observer saw two images, side by side, for 200 ms. An arrow cue pointed, randomly, left, right, or bidirectionally. Left or right indicated which image (the target) to rate while ignoring the other (the distractor); bidirectional requested rating the combined pleasure of both images. In half the blocks, the cue came before the images (precuing). Otherwise, it came after (postcuing). Precuing allowed the observer to ignore the distractor, while postcuing demanded tracking both images. Finally, we obtained single-pleasure ratings for each image shown alone. Our replication confirms the original study. People have unbiased access to their felt pleasure from each image and the average of both. Furthermore, the variance of the observer’s report is similar whether reporting the pleasure of one image or the average pleasure of two. The undiminished variance for reports of the average pleasure of two images indicates either that the underlying pleasure variances are highly correlated, or, more likely, that the variance arises in the common reporting process. In brief, observers can faithfully track at least two visual pleasures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-340
Number of pages11
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Aesthetics
  • Ensemble perception
  • Glimpse
  • Pleasure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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